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Old 06-01-2016, 12:26 PM   #15
RMB
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No. Period.

The most solar can do is keep youtr batteries batteries up - typically 2. They will never generate enough power to operate a coffee maker, TV, AC, furnace and the other amenities that we love.

I had 4 75 watt panels on a sailboat charging 4 deep discharge 6 V batteries - it looked exotic, was a great addition to the instrument panel but other than keeping some lights on? A waste of money. It was a constant effort to juggle the boats electrical demands with the solar output. I juggled that for 5 years at sea and finally gave up and bought a generator. Should have done it years earluier!

A generator is a farr bigger bang for the buck. A small 2000w generator - Honda/Yamaha etc. Carries easily, is quiet, reliable - sun/rain/snow/cloudy and operates all the appliances we have in our AS without a problem all for less than half the cost of solar.

This set up has worked perfectly for us over 6 years and 60,000KM on our AS including Mexico and a lot of boon docking.

Thats my humble opinion based on my experience, with all respect to those who differ.
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:53 PM   #16
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Our 2006 Safari had a factory installed solar panel. At today's standards, anything today would be better. This one could have been 80 watts. It was small.

I am using a Honda generator as a test with our 2014 International. We do not use it much, as we are very aware that we use only what we need in lighting in the evenings. But... it comes in handy if needed. You can also sell it without the trailer being attached to it.

What I do miss with solar is the battery use was extended while Boondocking Off the Grid. We depended on some lights, water pump for fresh water in sink, and the radio in the evening. Over a week the batteries would slowly drop in voltage. Current Solar options can improve your battery situation with day to day uses. Showers and Furnace needs... generator or hook up to tow vehicle while it idles to assist these 12 volt monsters sucking the life out of batteries.

With the Honda generator when the furnace or water pump for a shower was needed, it is a fine alternative. Even a 'hair dryer' can be used by my wife. There no doubt some amount of battery recharging going on and from reading Threads with those who know... it is beyond my knowledge of understanding wire gauges and battery capacity, etc..

It all depends on YOUR kind of traveling. RV Parks... use their power. Solar nor a Generator is of much use for this option. IF you camp without a connected power supply, read the Forums. Some solar options are far too exotic for my understanding. A generator I can understand. Add gasoline, start and do what you need to do and then give the batteries a little charging time of your choice and shut it down.

We are usually Off the Grid. With Solar or a Generator, you can also hook up the tow vehicle and run the water pump to shower with ample voltage. Same with the furnace blower when needed. Not efficient, but gasoline is cheaper than the other options.

If you shower every day... generator. If you want to watch HDTV... generator.

If you live in your Airstream as if it is a tent... solar is way more than you need.
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:14 PM   #17
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I'm.sitting in the sun in hot steamy Savannah.Georgia for weeks. I'm running my AC about 18 hours a day. I'm not plugged in. My batteries are charged fully the next day by noon.
I have 1.2 kw on the roof. I use 2 volt Rolls batteries. I use gas appliances for heating water. My point os that it is completely realistic.to live entirely on solar.
jink panels.controllers.batteries any wiring will make you plug in.
I have not plugged in for months!
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:25 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by AtomicNo13 View Post
I'm.sitting in the sun in hot steamy Savannah.Georgia for weeks. I'm running my AC about 18 hours a day. I'm not plugged in. My batteries are charged fully the next day by noon.
I have 1.2 kw on the roof. I use 2 volt Rolls batteries. I use gas appliances for heating water. My point os that it is completely realistic.to live entirely on solar.
jink panels.controllers.batteries any wiring will make you plug in.
I have not plugged in for months!
******

Not fair.

NASA's International Space Station is also on Solar. They have been unplugged for years and have a good view all of the time. Outside, the humidity is... very low.

I have seen your trailer in the Mohave Desert. You exceed the limits of NASA's Solar science technology. You look like Boulder City, Nevada's Solar Array in the Mohave Desert... but on top of an Airstream and on the move.

Boulder Dam sells one KW of electricity for $0.0025. Not one drop of Solar.
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:46 PM   #19
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Great.... I have a solar stalker
I'm not that freakish just electrified!
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:46 PM   #20
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Solar

I had solar installed at the dealership when I bought my new AS. It was roughly 4k for 200 watts. I would NOT recommend an install, but do recommend solar panels that are portable. I like to park in shade and this rendered my rooftop panels virtually useless...portables with a long lead are superb. A friend who works in the solar biz said to wait on buying anything right now...they are about to come out with smaller, and more efficient panels any day now. She wasn't sure of cost but said should be same or cheaper.

BTW I dry camped for a month in Why AZ this winter (no shade so had direct sun all day) and used my propane for showers and cooking and solar for all other things, excluding AC and microwave. The batteries were always topped off and I never ran out of power. I would say 200 watts was more than sufficient.

Good luck!
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:59 PM   #21
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Yiikes!!!! $4k is a lot me thinks!
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Old 06-01-2016, 02:01 PM   #22
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Interesting assortment of comments and experiences.

Let me state unequivocally that as a solar professional, the overall output and thus satisfaction with your system is wholly dependent on the system design, components used and primarily, who installed it and how it was installed.

I have systems providing many usable amps of charging to a variety of battery systems 200 watts/2 group 24 batteries up to gargantuan RV systems with 2000 watts of solar providing up to 120 amps of charging to their 1200 amp/hour lithium battery bank and just about every conceivable combination in between.

These systems vary in intent from simple battery charging to full-on off grid use INCLUDING operating a roof A/C with no generator.

'Worth it' is a highly subjective question directly related to your personal objectives and of course........ the depth of your pockets !!!!!!! :-))


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Old 06-01-2016, 02:23 PM   #23
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My take is your decision point for solar is the style of your travels. Our current travel schedule is three months a year on the road. Our adventures often center around National Parks or boon docking with plenty of day trips hiking and biking. Most of the Parks we hit do not have shore power. So we travel with a small Honda generator and Zamp portable 160 watt solar panel. Many of our stays are more than a week so keeping the batteries charged is a requirement. Many parks have very limited times when you can run a generator and a lot of the time conflicts with our day trips. In the last couple of years we have found we use the generator less and less. Last year on our Utah trip we never used the generator and used the solar panels about 50% of the time when there was not shore power.

The Airstream life-style is great...enjoy!
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Old 06-01-2016, 02:26 PM   #24
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My take is your decision point for solar is the style of your travels. Our current travel schedule is three months a year on the road. Our adventures often center around National Parks or boon docking with plenty of day trips hiking and biking. Most of the Parks we hit do not have shore power. So we travel with a small Honda generator and Zamp portable 160 watt solar panel. Many of our stays are more than a week so keeping the batteries charged is a requirement. Many parks have very limited times when you can run a generator and a lot of the time conflicts with our day trips. In the last couple of years we have found we use the generator less and less. Last year on our Utah trip we never used the generator and used the solar panels about 50% of the time when there was not shore power.

The Airstream life-style is great...enjoy!
What do you do to secure your panels while away on day trips?
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:37 PM   #25
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I can tell y'all are a wealth of knowledge. I am probably not getting the camper for at least 4-5 years from now so will investigate and think on it more.
Holy Cow......4 or 5 years out! Any response to the value of "Solar Power" today will be archaic by the time you get your unit. Like computers...."todays best solar set up at x dollars" will be a dinosaur in four or five years.

Anyway...have fun exploring, figuring and dreaming!
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:29 PM   #26
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solar

As a ham operator i us 400 watts of remote panels,300 amps of battery: never plugged in after 2 weeks using radios. In the Sierras in late oct ;keep a gen set handy. 3 foot of snow puts a cremp on solar
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:01 PM   #27
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Cool We have pretty much what Lewster describes...

...as the basic system. (2) 100 Watt panels on the roof and (2) group 27 marine batteries. (which reminds me - I have to check the water before we take off!)

We're able to run the furnace as needed, plus (2) CPAP machines and assorted lights - all of which are now LED.

A big chunk of the installed price is labor. If you are comfortable with wiring and able to route conductors so they won't abrade on sharp edges and short out in a week, you can do it for less.
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:14 PM   #28
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Yes it is worth it for the freedom and quiet.

Robert:
Ann Arbor Bob hit it on the head. The only real answer, is... it depends. We had AM install ours five years ago, we do both boondocking, Nat. Parks/forests/and whatever place lets us park, plus a fair number of full service rallies etc. It works for us. Does it pay back in less cost? not sure it does, but it does pay back in freedom and longer stays in beautiful back country places. I hate the noise of a generator when there is only the sound of the wind, birds, and animals around you. It is all about what you are into. Find out how you use your airstream first, then decide on solar or not. We had ours for about a year and a half before we KNEW we wanted a good solar system. And it is much harder for THEM to sneak up on you when you don't make noise....
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