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Old 05-05-2015, 08:01 PM   #15
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I have been reading this thread as I am also afraid of dry camping. one thing I was wondering about is how can you tell if your solar panel is working?
Gloria
What's kind of funny is I've praised the power of solar but ever since mine were installed I have no idea how to make them work. I'm taking my rig to the dealer this week to finally find out. I know that I had enough installed that I was never supposed to have to worry about the dead refrigerator ever again, and yet once again I'm having to jump my motorhome batteries. Go figure. What can I say I avoid dry camping like the plague and have a very quiet generator. Big I spent thousands on solar so one day I'd like to know how to make them work.
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Old 05-05-2015, 09:00 PM   #16
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What's kind of funny is I've praised the power of solar but ever since mine were installed I have no idea how to make them work. I'm taking my rig to the dealer this week to finally find out. I know that I had enough installed that I was never supposed to have to worry about the dead refrigerator ever again, and yet once again I'm having to jump my motorhome batteries. Go figure. What can I say I avoid dry camping like the plague and have a very quiet generator. Big I spent thousands on solar so one day I'd like to know how to make them work.

How big is your battery pack and how much solar do you have? Then what is your daily load? These facts determine if you have an adequate system to attempt dry camping.


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Old 05-05-2015, 09:30 PM   #17
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Well I had 1200 watts worth of panels installed (literally most of my roof is a solar array now.) I know that from there it goes down to my chassis battery compartment which is right behind the entry door on my '00 XC Diesel. There's a monitor that reads out...well I don't know what it does axfually. The power is stored in four deep cycle batteries they connected some weird way. I bought this kit to start and added extra solar panels: Rakuten.com my problem is that the readout makes smiley or frowny faces instead of spelling it out for me. So far it's been a $2000+ waste. I literally only had them installed so I could leave my refrigerator on without plugging the shore power into my house as (long story) it trips the breakers the second I plug it in.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:43 AM   #18
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If you actually have 1,200 watts of solar panels and only paid $2,000 then the problem is likely system quality. I paid over $3,000 for a 400 watt solar system that I installed myself. I got the system from AM Solar and it is top quality.

Using the stock 160 AH Lifeline AGM batteries I can now dry camp for 4-5 days without issues. I run the refrigerator, make a couple of K-cup coffees in the morning and watch a DVD video in the evening. With my setup the only electrical limitation is no AC or microwave unless I run the generator or plug into external power. I use a Hamilton Beach K-cup brewing machine that only draws 600 watts and can be used with the 1,000 watt inverter.

The water tank sizes now limits my dry camping capability.


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Old 05-06-2015, 10:05 AM   #19
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Well I had 1200 watts worth of panels installed (literally most of my roof is a solar array now.) I know that from there it goes down to my chassis battery compartment which is right behind the entry door on my '00 XC Diesel. There's a monitor that reads out...well I don't know what it does axfually. The power is stored in four deep cycle batteries they connected some weird way. I bought this kit to start and added extra solar panels: Rakuten.com my problem is that the readout makes smiley or frowny faces instead of spelling it out for me. So far it's been a $2000+ waste. I literally only had them installed so I could leave my refrigerator on without plugging the shore power into my house as (long story) it trips the breakers the second I plug it in.

I just looked at those systems on the Rakuten.com web site. First problem I see is the use of 10 gauge wire. That is not big enough for 400 watts much less 1,200 watts. That small wire size causes a large voltage drop and ensures your batteries never get properly charged. I also noticed it uses a ViewStar 30A PWM Charge Controller, which is not going to get the maximum power from the solar panels. The PWM (Pulse Wave Modulation) controller combined with the small wire size really limits the solar capacity. Another variable is how the panels are wired. If in series then any shading of a panel cuts the total power output. If in parallel only the shaded panel is effected and the other panels can put out full power.

The AM solar "Sun Runner" system I installed uses 6 gauge wire for 400 watts and includes a MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controller made in USA by Blue Sky.
http://www.amsolar.com/home/amr/page...6pro_core.html


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Old 05-06-2015, 10:07 AM   #20
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Suggestion for those afraid: Go to a campground with electricity. Don't plug in. Try to rough it. Plug in when you would run the generator, then unplug. See how it goes.

And remember to have fun! It's supposed to be fun.
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Old 05-06-2015, 11:04 AM   #21
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Excellent idea, Skater!

That's the way to do it.....baby steps.



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Old 05-06-2015, 11:51 AM   #22
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Suggestion for those afraid: Go to a campground with electricity. Don't plug in. Try to rough it. Plug in when you would run the generator, then unplug. See how it goes.
Also works for learning to ration your water supply. Fill the fresh tank rather than hooking to municipal water. See how long you can make it last before you run out. And if you use more than you expected, you've got hookups right there so you don't have to break camp to get more.

Fortunately, the tanks in a late-model Interstate are pretty well balanced with regard to capacity. You should run out of fresh water just before gray tank is full to capacity, since some of the water ends up in the black tank. When it's time to fill the fresh tank again it's also time to dump the waste tanks.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:04 PM   #23
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Thanks everyone

You all have been very helpful with your replies. I still have to locate where I can get the information on the solar panel . Is it in the area where it shows how much charge the battery has?
Gloria
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:50 AM   #24
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You might call the service department at the dealership where ypu purchased your rig, gghayes.

We had ours on speed dial for the first couple of months, and he walked us thru many things.



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Old 05-07-2015, 08:03 AM   #25
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Not trying to minimize the apprehension but you could think of it like this: dry camping or boondocking is sort of like a picnic or a night under the stars.

No lights, no problem, have a couple of expandable battery lanterns. Light up your inside and outside.

No heater, no problem, a decent sleeping bag and some blankets. Leave a light layer of clothing on if your not sure how chilly it will get. I even took a duvet off my bed at home one year to put on top of the sleeping bag as it was going to freeze.

No fridge, no problem, take some non perishables that are still comfortable for putting together a meal.

No potty, no problem, a bucket works if needed.

Point is you can do this. Its new and you haven't worked out the unknowns but with each trip it will be more comfortable. Take a friend, a phone, water, clothing and snacks and have a blast.
The only elaboration I'd add here is that carrying onboard water that is not within the fresh water tank can solve the potty issue for gravity model toilets if for some reason you cannot run your water pump (such as your batter is running too low to use). I keep a 10 liter military-grade jerry can full of potable water in the slot beside my fresh water tank (my Interstate is built on a T1N Sprinter so I have space there). Other owners have reported using iced tea jugs and other containers for supplemental water. If you take a bit of that water, strategically time the opening of the crapper flapper, and slug your potty with the water, it's the same result as flushing.

We have been Interstate owners for about seven months now. I've / we've boondocked in four cities / towns / remote areas thus far and I've only had full hookups in one additional location, that being earlier this week (Pecan Grove RV park in downtown Austin Texas - *highly* recommended if you can manage to secure a reservation, which can be tough). After four boondocking trips, the hookups seemed like quite the amazing luxury - along the lines of, "Ah, so THIS is how the other half lives!!"
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:22 AM   #26
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Yep, hook-ups are really nice....but so is the absolute sense of freedom and independence that comes with being able to pull in anywhere suitable and know that you have everything you need.

Dry-camping is something everyone should learn to feel comfortable with, IMO, because you never know what the day might bring......

For the same reason, don't let yourself run out of water or propane, let your batteries get too low, etc.



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Old 05-07-2015, 10:51 AM   #27
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The guys at my dealership (Toscano RV) agreed the wiring was crap and upgraded that. My XC came with an inverter that were using. The thing is they worked when I first had them installed but then I pushed a button on the controller and whatever I did made them stop working. Whoops.
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