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Old 09-08-2020, 07:12 PM   #1
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How much solar needed

We have a 5th wheel and boondocked for the first time over Labor Day weekend 5 days on land we own.
We bought a Jackery 500watt portableClick image for larger version

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ID:	300357Attachment 1Attachment 1 power generator with a 100 watt portable solar panel.
I also have a cpap battery and another small solar battery.
We bought a small 32,inch LED tv.
We also have a Champion 6275 inverter generator and a rechargeable fan.
We watched tv every morning and late evening, ran my fan and used the cpap battery.
The only issue I noted was I didnít turn the heater/ humidifier for my cpap off & the battery quit about 4 am. After turning it off the next night , still had half charge in the morning.
Propane fridge, one 100 amp battery.
We only started the generator to make coffee and turn the air on once.
I donít quite understand the need for a large solar set up.
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Old 09-08-2020, 07:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tundranurse1 View Post
We have a 5th wheel and boondocked for the first time over Labor Day weekend 5 days on land we own.
We bought a Jackery 500watt portableAttachment 300357Attachment 300357Attachment 1Attachment 1 power generator with a 100 watt portable solar panel.
I also have a cpap battery and another small solar battery.
We bought a small 32,inch LED tv.
We also have a Champion 6275 inverter generator and a rechargeable fan.
We watched tv every morning and late evening, ran my fan and used the cpap battery.
The only issue I noted was I didn’t turn the heater/ humidifier for my cpap off & the battery quit about 4 am. After turning it off the next night , still had half charge in the morning.
Propane fridge, one 100 amp battery.
We only started the generator to make coffee and turn the air on once.
I don’t quite understand the need for a large solar set up.
Some people have greater than 500 watt ac loads. I like to run microwave, [1500 watts] coffee pot [1200 watts] and tv/stereo/subwoofer [400 watts] off my inverter without running generator. This requires a bigger battery bank and bigger solar to charge it up. Everybodies requirements are different.
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Old 09-08-2020, 11:54 PM   #3
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We boondocked 90% of the time. We only had 300w of solar. We were able to stay where the AC isn't needed.

We used a stovetop coffee perculator... awesome coffee and buttered the bread and plopped it in fry pan for great toast. We don't watch TV .. listen to music on XM radio instead. Used the inverter for warming up things in microwave.

Yes, everyone is different in needs.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:57 AM   #4
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CPAPs with humidifiers take quite a bit of power as you have discovered. A 100 watt solar panel isn’t much as you have also discovered. For your CPAP I recommend going to two 6 v batteries which will double your amp hours. Then you need a way to charge them every day, either with more solar (remember rain and clouds come) or a generator. Some people get by with 300 watts of panels and some need 1200. You know you need more than you have now.
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:46 AM   #5
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I donít quite understand the need for a large solar set up.
I think that's a fair comment but...............everyone has a different lifestyle.

Many folks who hit the road like more creature comforts for instance:
Residential refrigerator
Satellite receiver with DVR (X2 or 3)
Electric coffee maker
Basement freezer
Heater overnight
Etc...

Some folks want to live like they are plugged in, REALLY plugged in when completely off the grid, but it looks like you guys did a good job of living on a small amount of power
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Old 09-09-2020, 02:43 PM   #6
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Thanks. We charged the Jackery solar battery with the 100 watt panel; because, it was very sunny.
My husband turned the generator for a short time a couple times a day to charge the camper battery to run the Fantastic Fan & I charged the cpap battery and small solar generator.

When we retire , we plan on getting another battery and a basement freezer; so, I am sure we will need more solar; but, right now, I think we are fine.
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Old 09-11-2020, 08:34 PM   #7
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I started with 150 watts and ended up with 1100. I bought as I could afford it and always kept in mind I'd add more panels later. Thus I built my system for more. I don't tilt my panels in the winter for increased output. I find it a lot safer to buy extra panels then get on the roof. I've seen people worry about panels in wind storms and nearly fall off the roof, putting them down from tilt. If your over 55, you don't belong on the roof. I've known people that fell from less distance and died from the fall.
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Old 09-12-2020, 11:42 AM   #8
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We boondock full-time and like having the full hookup experience off the grid. Our base load - AC/heat off and nothing that isn't powered 24/7 running - is around 300W (24/7). A 100W panel wouldn't even come close to providing enough energy to power our rig.

2925W of panels and 22.8kWh of LiFePO4 @ 48V, roughly the equivalent of 1800AH@12V.
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Old 09-12-2020, 05:57 PM   #9
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We are "minimalist" boondockers and get along just fine with a 120 watt portable solar panel, with two group 31 batteries.

But a CPAP really changes the picture for you -- you don't want to have that thing quit on you in the middle of the night.

There is no easy way to answer the question of "how much solar is enough," since everyone's needs are different. My seat of the pants guess for you would be that 400 watts of solar, along with a fairly hefty battery bank, would do the job.

But I am basing this guess on years of reading other folks' "how much do I need" postings. The right way to do it (which is not easy but not impossible) is to carefully monitor the draw for each appliance, using the ammeter function on your multimeter. Then add up the numbers, and there is your daily amp/hour budget.

That sounds like rocket science, but it is not. There are lots of instructional videos on youtube. And the multimeter costs under $20, most of the time -- it is an essential tool for boondocking.

Hang in there -- don't be discouraged -- you can absolutely do this.
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Old 09-12-2020, 06:29 PM   #10
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Do a Google for 'Rving, how much solar is needed for a CPAP'... many links came up. Here is the first one... a YouTube. I didn't watch it but maybe it will answer some questions.

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Old 09-12-2020, 06:41 PM   #11
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We like to camp up north where a/c is not needed to sleep comfortably. Sometimes though, that means that heat is needed. Even with a propane furnace, 12v is needed to run the fan. In spring and fall it can be necessary to run the heat through the night as temps drop to the upper 30s. Great weather for camping but it requires the correct equipment.

We also have a 12vdc compressor fridge. Much less power hungry than a residential but it still needs power. Add some lights, a little TV in the evening, an exhaust fan for warm afternoons or shower time, and the electric needs start to add up. Even more so if we decide to bring out the toaster.

We have 780 Ah of battery capacity and 540-watts of solar which is ground deployed. We went with the ground deployed folding panels so we can park in the shade and still have our panels in the sun. Plus, we can move & tilt them to follow the sun through the day - especially important fall and spring.

We're able to go at least 3 days, sometimes 4, without needed to recharge the batteries unless it starts getting cold and the heat runs a lot. On a sunny day we can usually be topped off (or nearly so) before dark until the days start getting shorter than the nights.

In really nice summer weather we can use the inverter to power the water heater and still be recharged by evening. Takes about 15 minutes to heat the 6-gal tank, but the batteries take a hit. That's saved for those times when it's not allowed to run the generator but we still want a warm shower.

Each person is going to have different "needs" for their electric system. Good thing there are so many different ways to configure them.
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Old 09-12-2020, 07:44 PM   #12
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Yep, unless you are willing to throw some money at a big system, you'll have to do some math. One big mistake is to do a simple power out at night vs power in during the day calculation. What I mean is don't look at your panels as putting 100% of their output into your batteries while the sun is shining. Some of that output will go to loads during the day, shaving off the total amps that go into the battery so the system needs to be over sized. Be sure to figure in shorter winter days. If you are doing the system yourself it's a good idea to put in an over sized controller, that way you can add panels later if you need to.

Then of course, there's nothing wrong with supplementing with some generator time. With modest systems, generators are good for bulk charging, and solar for the final topping off. You can always run the generator for a while before bed too.
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Old 09-13-2020, 01:12 PM   #13
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We charged the Jackery solar battery with the 100 watt panel; because, it was very sunny.
My husband turned the generator for a short time a couple times a day to charge the camper battery to run the Fantastic Fan & I charged the cpap battery and small solar generator.
I think your generator time is contributing as much or more to your state of charge as your solar panel. If you want to really find out how much your panel contributes to your battery charge, see how long you can go on panel alone. If you're going to run a generator anyway, then the solar panel is "just for fun".

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Old 11-12-2020, 11:28 PM   #14
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I have a larger ( 600 watt/400 amp) than I need for day-to-day use. But I have it so I can go 4 days without the sun and have enough sun in the winter.
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