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Old 01-04-2016, 01:20 PM   #1
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Recommendations for Solar Panel for Argosy / Classic Motorhome

We have a 1978 24ft Argosy MH. We are in the process of changing out our Dometic RM-100 refrigerator to a Dometic RM2811. We go without plugging in to shore power for several weeks while on vacation although we are usually driving the MH every 3-5 days. We do not have battery problems with the current RM100 but expect the RM2811 to push the limit. As the RM-100 was non-electronic, there was no battery draw to keep the refrigerator going for as long as necessary. With the RM-2811, there is a 0.45 amp draw while it is operating (from the gas solenoid valve which were guessing to be about half the time). The simplest solution seems to be to add some small roof-mounted solar panel to off-set the draw. We are not looking for 100% of refrigerator draw but something close would be good. Something in the 10-20 watt range.

Any suggestions on small solar panels? There are a few places we could put small panels (say 12x12) either on the AC cover or where the TV antenna used to be (its a 1/2 pipe coupling that is now plugged). In addition to the solar panels options, are there recommendations as to where to place the panels?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Old 01-04-2016, 02:07 PM   #2
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I think you need to go and check your calculations Belle. I use a 200w Zamp portable and that just about keeps the house batteries topped up for 12v controls (fridge, furnace etc), pump, lights and TV etc, not actually running the fridge on 12v.
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Old 01-04-2016, 03:54 PM   #3
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Hi Martin: Good to hear from you. We are only looking to cover the added draw from the refrigerator. We don’t need the solar panel to counter/compensate for any of the other systems as we know our limitations on everything else. We’ve used the Argosy for ‘dry camping’ only for about 15 years so know our limits on parking before needing to re-charge.All we use that take battery when parked are lights in the evening and the water pump. We have a catalytic/propane heater (no furnace), never run AC, don’t have a TV/radio, etc. The 0.45 amp draw was obtained using an ammeter on the refrigerator draw alone, while running, and out of the motorhome.
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Old 01-04-2016, 04:40 PM   #4
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Understood Belle. I am very surprised you are drawing less than 0.5amp, I assumed that was calculated not measured. I have the slightly different but similar RM4223 and don't use the original fridge vent (instead I have an additional 12v circulation fan - which adds load) and estimate the average load to be 2-3 amp (the fan is on a thermostat so stops and starts).

In the past, I have used but found a single 15w panel, and even a triple 15w (45w total) panel only about as capable as a battery tender. They were 'cheap' HF items so maybe not comparable with better quality low wattage panels.
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Old 01-04-2016, 05:39 PM   #5
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Throw this question up in the solar and generator section of the trailer forum. There is a whole lot of good people up there who have been working on this stuff.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:30 PM   #6
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I wasn't aware there was such a section. I first couldn't find it, but just now did under the technical section. Thanks. Will post there.
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Old 01-04-2016, 08:18 PM   #7
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I'm waiting for the day when I see an Argosy or Airstream trucking down the road pulling a trailer covered in solar panels. You could just see it couldn't you; a 24' trailer, just covered with black panels, pulled by an Argosy/Airstream, driven by a hipster couple proclaiming to be so "eco" friendly. "Saving the world in my solar arrayed gas guzzling 454 motorhome".

Cheers
Tony
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Old 01-09-2016, 01:08 PM   #8
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1977 24' Argosy 24
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Hi belle
I'm currently installing flexible solar panel, each 150 w, 600 w a sunny day produces more electricity than a nuclear power plant. an important thing for me was to change the refrigerator, one compressor, since absorbed consume a lot of electricity. serious for my motorhome with 6 batteries each 100 amp, a refrigerator compressor, I have over a week to function without solar panel.
The only problem is to produce a small noise when it starts, like one's home
I hope it helps my information
Herman
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