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-   -   Solar POWER?!?!? (https://www.irv2.com/forums/f59/solar-power-248266.html)

scottandanna 05-30-2015 05:23 AM

Solar POWER?!?!?
 
Found these on Amazon for $550-600.

Are they worth it? Will they get me "off the grid"?

Is it really that easy and that cheap?

My trailer is "Solar Ready".

Go Power! GP-RV-95 95-Watt Solar Kit with 30 Amp Digital Regulator

OLYLEN 05-30-2015 07:40 AM

Go Power is very expensive. What you are describing is a $200 solar system. Depending on your electric needs and the sun where you park you will need something in the 400 watt area and at least two good deep cycle batteries. Read a bit more in the Solar area below in this forum. Price wise you are not far off and with your smaller RV you could be off grid independent.

LEN

jacwjames 05-30-2015 07:57 AM

I agree with OLYLEN

I have 325 watt (3 panels) on my roof and it is marginal for keeping up my battery bank for boon docking. I have to very conservative on usage to make it last and hope for sunny days. I was watching the charge this last week and it looked like my peak amperage charge was ~15 amps. My system was on the coach when I bought it but I know there are better options but it works for me.

What does solar ready mean for your coach, do you have a heavy gauge wire run to the roof routed through a cabinet that can be used for the controller and then to the existing battery or near by compartment that can be used for batteries.

You need to know what your expected demand is and how you want to use the solar system to get the best system for the price that will work for you.

I would continue to research, go the IRV2 Boondocking forum, there are usually lots of good posts there.

wbwood 05-30-2015 10:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scottandanna (Post 2578950)
Found these on Amazon for $550-600.

Are they worth it? Will they get me "off the grid"?

Is it really that easy and that cheap?

My trailer is "Solar Ready".

Go Power! GP-RV-95 95-Watt Solar Kit with 30 Amp Digital Regulator


We bought a Renogy 100w suitcase with controller in it. Simple plug and play. Paid under $300 for it. It's portable and you can move it around to getting maximum sun.

SkiSmuggs 05-30-2015 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wbwood (Post 2579495)
We bought a Renogy 100w suitcase with controller in it. Simple plug and play. Paid under $300 for it. It's portable and you can move it around to getting maximum sun.

The 200w Renogy solar starter kit is a better buy and will serve you much better for under $500. I do have the suitcase for backup when parked in the shade.

scottandanna 05-30-2015 04:01 PM

My trailer runs on 110-30A. How much power would I need to run the A/C and fridge on solar only?

marcham 05-30-2015 04:24 PM

AC isn't really viable, unless you have a really big roof and are willing to spend beaucoup money. Running the 12v side of the propane fridge is no problem. It is possible to power a residential fridge if you can accommodate 400-600 Watts of solar panels and enough batteries.

scottandanna 05-30-2015 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by marcham (Post 2579930)
AC isn't really viable, unless you have a really big roof and are willing to spend beaucoup money. Running the 12v side of the propane fridge is no problem. It is possible to power a residential fridge if you can accommodate 400-600 Watts of solar panels and enough batteries.

I was afraid of that. We have a 5550 generator, if needed, for A/C. If it ever comes to that.

But after finally getting the trailer in our possession today, I realize that it recharges off the jeep while it is hooked up and the jeep is running, so basically, the jeep is a big ole diesel generator!

SkiSmuggs 05-31-2015 04:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scottandanna (Post 2580036)
I was afraid of that. We have a 5550 generator, if needed, for A/C. If it ever comes to that.

But after finally getting the trailer in our possession today, I realize that it recharges off the jeep while it is hooked up and the jeep is running, so basically, the jeep is a big ole diesel generator!

That is a very expensive charger and only provides a light charging. Solar on the roof provides charging from sunrise to sunset without burning fuel to do it.

jacwjames 05-31-2015 07:14 AM

Using your Jeep to charge the house battery would be expensive and take a long time.

Solar power is an option, you just need to decide how much power consumption you will have and plan accordingly.

The advantage that you have is that you will have minimal parasitic draw on your system. My Monaco draws amperage even when sitting with no major power consumption.

Suggest you do your research and proceed once you find the most economic solution. Depending on where you live and/or camp you may consider a small wind generator in combination to solar. If the profile on wind direction and speed is good wind may be viable.

jackfish 05-31-2015 10:38 AM

Read this and it will answer most of your questions.

RV Electrical

puttin 05-31-2015 11:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jackfish (Post 2581052)
Read this and it will answer most of your questions.

RV Electrical


Very informative site, thanks for the link!

scottandanna 05-31-2015 02:19 PM

Well, I have a 5550 generator. Too big to haul in the trailer, but for another $100 I can add a brake system to my hemi truck and haul the generator if we are going anywhere where there is no hookup.

Right now we are hooked up to a 110 20A house plug, and the A/C and fridge work, as well as the led lights. I would not attempt to run the microwave and A/C simultaneously, but at least we know we can keep cool pretty much wherever we go as long as we have access to a 110.

scottandanna 05-31-2015 02:20 PM

Well, I have a 5550 generator. Too big to haul in the trailer, but for another $100 I can add a brake system to my hemi truck and haul the generator if we are going anywhere where there is no hookup.

Right now we are hooked up to a 110 20A house plug, and the A/C and fridge work, as well as the led lights. I would not attempt to run the microwave and A/C simultaneously, but at least we know we can keep cool pretty much wherever we go as long as we have access to a 110.

wbwood 05-31-2015 03:28 PM

Don't park near anyone else if you plan to run that 5500 genny. You will get loads of complaints and/or bad stares.

scottandanna 05-31-2015 04:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wbwood (Post 2581442)
Don't park near anyone else if you plan to run that 5500 genny. You will get loads of complaints and/or bad stares.

Oh no...that would only be if we were out back on our ranch or out on my uncle's ranch in west Texas. I would never run that stinky loud thing near any other campers.

Luckily, I am hearing impaired (-50dB) and could probably sleep right through it.

But I know nobody for a half mile around me could.

My parents live out in Yuma AZ and there are places where you can just pull off the road and settle down. Those places I might light up the generator.

scottandanna 06-05-2015 12:43 PM

I scrapped the solar idea and got a 3200/4000 watt generator instead. Supposed to run 10 hours on a tank and should be plenty strong if we take it easy on the microwave and just run A/C and Fridge. We can turn off the AC if we need to nuke up some food, and restart the A/C after dinner is cooked.

Might handle all of the above, but I see no reason to push it.

Superslif 06-05-2015 07:33 PM

I wanted something to keep my battery charged up when we are in national or state parks without electric for 3-4 days. The GoPower 120 watt suitcase portable was $600 on Amazon. The Renogy was $279 for their 100 watt suitcase package. I got the Renogy for two 4 night stays this year in VT. State Parks. And for a trip to AK next summer.

glbtrottr 06-08-2015 04:51 PM

Guys, the thread is a little misleading.

I'm a big solar proponent. If you want to use a generator, great. If Solar is of interest, the more batteries to store the power, fabulous; the more panels you can get on the roof, the faster you can store that power, and then store that energy with the best possible controller you can use.

In my world, A/C is almost achievable. I just don't want to push it yet. I may go with DC Air Conditioners that double as heat pumps.

scottandanna 06-09-2015 08:07 AM

Living is SE Texas, A/C is a MUST. And since solar won't cut it yet for us (yet), we ended up going the generator route.

I got a 3400/4000 unit that I can pick up and carry, that should handle A/C and/or fridge. Might have to use one at a time, at least until they both cool down and aren't running full time.

Forest Grump 06-09-2015 04:30 PM

I designed and installed my own solar 480w in our new motorhome. I did a lot of research beforehand and found the most common issue was that they just did not perform as expected. Mine does, exactly as designed. The main reason for non performance of solar is the wire size used in the installation. Most solar installs use a graph to tell them voltage loss in a given wire for a given distance, 3% being "their" acceptable loss from controller to battery and even higher between panels and controller as long as the controller gets 13 to 14 volts. They say the panels put out 17.7v so you should have plenty of umph at the controller. WRONG!

I bought 2 gauge wire online, 30' and used it exclusively. I connected the 3 panels in parallel using 8 gauge solar wire and connectors and ran it through the roof into a closet. In the closet I pick up the 2 gauge wire going to the controller and then to the batteries. My loss using a online voltage calculator is in the 0.1 volt range or less at 27 amps. With the digital voltmeter I verify the online calculator. I designed it for 27 amps, 480 w at 14.6 volts to the batteries. Today is cloudy, panels working just fine.

With kits like this do the math. Measure your distances, get the panel specs, and then use the online calculators to calculate voltage loss. Find your minimal wire size for the loss that is acceptable to you, the less the better.

garbonz 06-09-2015 04:46 PM

Overall point is that in TEXAS you got to have air conditioning AND you got to have a generator to do that with current solar technology. In order to maintain stealth, you could get quiet generator and run them almost anywhere.

Case in point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ8KkjBmbZs

scottandanna 06-09-2015 05:27 PM

Forest...when you say 2 gauge, are you talking about welding cable?

So the issue is more with the constriction of the wiring?

That said (asked), how much money do you have invested in your system so far?

I used 2g welding cable in my hot rod, and I know how expensive that stuff is, added to the solar panels and other electronics...

just curious.

scottandanna 06-09-2015 05:29 PM

Garbonz...I like your insulated box on the rear of your trailer! Nice and quiet!

Forest Grump 06-09-2015 07:08 PM

No I bought the cable from Cable 2 go and put it in a conduit. I would have to look up the type. I think total cost was south of $2,000. 2 day self install. I've seen 385w and 21 amps or so on the controller with it slowing down around 1 PM, batteries charged. We use from 20 to 40 amps per day boon docking. Real test begins soon, 12 days out at high alpine lakes. I also added the 3,000 w inverter, transfer switch, sub panel, pull/push bus fussing, remotes for inverter and controller, LED interior bulbs and two 6v Trojan 360 ah 6 volt batteries with 2/0 welding wire.

Made up all my own wires, wire terminals using a cable cutter, hammer crisper, shrink wrap, master cutoff, fussing.

It works, drove my son in law daffy with the wire runs.

I also hooked up a pigtail to charge my trolling motor for our infateable boat.

Forest Grump 06-09-2015 07:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by garbonz (Post 2595844)
Overall point is that in TEXAS you got to have air conditioning AND you got to have a generator to do that with current solar technology. In order to maintain stealth, you could get quiet generator and run them almost anywhere.

Case in point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ8KkjBmbZs


Generator hours are often limited from 10 am to 9 to 10 pm. We can get warm here too, Mojave Desert after all, so we go up up up. 7,000 to 9,000' works wonders. Two of the popular Southern California beach State parks have modernized and added electric. During the summer though we like the high alpine trout lakes.

scottandanna 06-10-2015 05:33 AM

WOW! What a setup! Let us know how it works on your longer trip!

Gocoffeer 06-10-2015 05:44 AM

Scott.. Getting off the grid is a nice debacle. Some can merely add a single solar panel and one battery to charge and they are off grid.... In my case I have the need for everything! I would require a life change...and a full roof top of panels that charge banks of batteries that I could try to run my AC units. But I have 500watts and about 15 amps of charging power and I get by with 4 batteries and no AC unit ... I can use my microwave conservatively....frig....and TV/stereo/DVD player....fan...and still survive. Everyone has their personal tolerance for devices and all that factors into a solar charging system and off grid capability.

twinboat 06-10-2015 06:40 AM

The solar industry is now changing to higher voltage panels to minimize the expensive, heavy gauge wire runs.
A 48 volt panel will cut the amps, in 1/4, for the same watt output. With long runs of cable to many panels, the savings, can equal the extra cost, of a MPPT controller. It is also, so much easier, to run small cables

Since solar needs clear sky anyway, running panels in series, also reduces the wire size needed.

The only heavy wire needed in a series setup is the short run from controller to batteries.

I actually run 3, 36 volt, 225 watt panels in series, thru a 12 gauge wire to my MPPT controller.

It is only 10 ft run on my boat, but been running 5 years now with no problems. We lived aboard, for 4 years, off grid cruising or on a mooring.

scottandanna 06-10-2015 03:25 PM

This won't be so much of an issue once we leave Texas. We don't mind heat, we just hate humidity.

Once we get into the mountains or closer to the West coast, A/C will rarely, if ever, be needed.

Probably the heater...

Forest Grump 06-11-2015 12:24 PM

We run toasters, toaster ovens, hair driers, microwave, TV, DVD, vacuum, furnace on cold nights, water pump, air up boat and charge 4 to 6 Apple devices every day - 40 amps. Our 3 160 watt panels provide 27 amps at 17.7 volts. Increasing voltage was an option I could have chosen but the panels were over 200 watts each and increased size, just enough to cause a problem on our 28'er. I was one of the first to use 4,800v 500 hp electric motors in the oil field greatly reducing wire size and cost etc. Remember you have to take your batteries to your manufacturers spec voltage for along enough period to reach float. For Trojans thats 14.8v but with our low humidity I use 14.6 to avoid to much battery water evaporation.

At altitude u get a lot more UV so solar works great. Also higher wattage give you more oomph on cloudy days for better recharge. We get 300 days of sun each year out here and 2-3 cloudy days in a row is a rarity. 4 days we revolt.

Our humidity is normally less than 20% during the summer so 100 at single digit humidity is pretty bearable. Probably why California has 37,000,000 residents.

For those who can use a physically larger panel then 36v are an excellent way to go.

garbonz 06-12-2015 07:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Forest Grump (Post 2598828)
We run toasters, toaster ovens, hair driers, microwave, TV, DVD, vacuum, furnace on cold nights, water pump, air up boat and charge 4 to 6 Apple devices every day - 40 amps. Our 3 160 watt panels provide 27 amps at 17.7 volts. Increasing voltage was an option I could have chosen but the panels were over 200 watts each and increased size, just enough to cause a problem on our 28'er. I was one of the first to use 4,800v 500 hp electric motors in the oil field greatly reducing wire size and cost etc. Remember you have to take your batteries to your manufacturers spec voltage for along enough period to reach float. For Trojans thats 14.8v but with our low humidity I use 14.6 to avoid to much battery water evaporation.

At altitude u get a lot more UV so solar works great. Also higher wattage give you more oomph on cloudy days for better recharge. We get 300 days of sun each year out here and 2-3 cloudy days in a row is a rarity. 4 days we revolt.

Our humidity is normally less than 20% during the summer so 100 at single digit humidity is pretty bearable. Probably why California has 37,000,000 residents.

For those who can use a physically larger panel then 36v are an excellent way to go.

Great post with good technical detail. Thanks.


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