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Old 09-15-2010, 01:38 PM   #15
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You can so parallel (+ to +, - to -) to add amperage, or series (+ to - to + to -) to add the voltage.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:56 PM   #16
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Rember if you increase the amperage you need thicker wire. If you increase the voltage you will need an MPPT controller which can change the 24 volts to 12 and thus you can use thinner wire.
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:25 PM   #17
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Here is a report on the two solar installations I've done. We boondock mostly, often for a week at a time. I use a CPAP machine which requires a couple of amps all night long.

Solar panels are near $1 a watt now, given the government-subsidized production of raw solar wafers in China. I get mine at Solar Panels - Sunelec : Solar Panels 58/W, PV Systems $2.40/W. Making mounting brackets of heavy aluminum angle works fine, and the wires are run down the refrigerator vent.

Batteries are 2 or 4 Trojan T105 6V golf cart batteries. These require maintenance, watering and cleaning but give the most watthour-years per dollar, by a wide margin.

In the trailer, I have one 85 watt panel connected across the battery direct. This is not the best plan because the panel only puts out about 50 watts when loaded down to 12-14 volts. It works if there's decent sun, we usually take a second panel on a cord, that we chase the sun around with if it's shady.

In the motorhome, I have three 130 watt panels connected to a SolarBoost 2000E maximum-power-point-tracking controller which works very well at getting the most out of marginal conditions, allowing the panels to operate at their optimum voltage and precisely regulating the charge to the batteries. The batteries are typically fully charged by noon, even in partial sun. I use 10 gauge wire everywhere.
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:14 PM   #18
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I have a very clear picture of what I want: two charged batteries each day so I can run my onboard propane heater and have sufficient lights for cool, even cold, nights in national parks. That said, an expert told me that two 100-watt panels and the requisite accessories would probably fill the bill. My evenings in the national parks are spent around a campfire or reading, not watching TV. I'm not arguing against others' use of generators. But in my case, I believe solar is the right answer for the simple requirement of keeping two batteries charged with minimum fuss. I'm prepared for the pummeling of those who hate the idea of solar. But I'd appreciate it if solar proponents would support me. I'm about to put $2,000 worth of panels and accessories, including labor, on my camper. But I have an open mind on the subject. -- John
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:07 PM   #19
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I have a very clear picture of what I want...But I have an open mind on the subject. -- John
get what u want, why ask or invite 'permission' from others?

i don't see a lot of folks haTing on solar.

it's not free and it's not simple and it's not perfect 4 everyone.

some of us have solar aNd gensets...

exactly what sorta support do ya need?

already consulted an 'expert'?

cool, but i'd suggest repeating that at least one more time.

the expert advise i received here was oVerridden by the company suppling those parts...

what was advised (equipment wise) wasn't gonna work.

experts don't always agree or perhaps rarely agree with each other.

and a LOT of free expert advise is tinted by financial/sales/brand access and so on.

many of the older solar threads provide great details on installs and equipment options.

amps IN reserve is in the range of 100 for 2 grp 27s a third battery adds 50 % more.

spend a week in a forrest or under cover of clouds/rain and the extra battery pays off.

agms require much less maintenance and greater flexibility with installation,

but flooded wet cells work fine and are widely used.

2000 $ isn't much but if U can get all the bits for that, super.

do yer thang, post pix, then go camping.

pummeling is optional.

cheers
2air'
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:47 PM   #20
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I have a very clear picture of what I want: two charged batteries each day so I can run my onboard propane heater and have sufficient lights for cool, even cold, nights in national parks. That said, an expert told me that two 100-watt panels and the requisite accessories would probably fill the bill. My evenings in the national parks are spent around a campfire or reading, not watching TV. I'm not arguing against others' use of generators. But in my case, I believe solar is the right answer for the simple requirement of keeping two batteries charged with minimum fuss. I'm prepared for the pummeling of those who hate the idea of solar. But I'd appreciate it if solar proponents would support me. I'm about to put $2,000 worth of panels and accessories, including labor, on my camper. But I have an open mind on the subject. -- John
Solar IS the right answer, but you can spend a lot less than $2000 for the setup you want. I just finished installing my system and and only spent $600 for everything. If I can install it, anybody can.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:01 PM   #21
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Solarblvd.com is selling Evergreen 200W 12V panels for $399, down from $900 - you could do the entire project using this panel for under $700 plus labor.
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:01 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by JBinKC View Post
I have a very clear picture of what I want: two charged batteries each day so I can run my onboard propane heater and have sufficient lights for cool, even cold, nights in national parks. That said, an expert told me that two 100-watt panels and the requisite accessories would probably fill the bill.
200 watts of solar panel, if you are parked in bright sun all day, will give you a maximum of about 1 kWh. Since they will be on your roof and not pointed directly at the sun, and probably dusty, figure 3/4 of that or 750 watthours. Assuming you have big enough batteries that are wired properly and fully charged when you start, 750 watthours in yields about 75% of that or maybe 600 watthours useful output. LED lights all night, maybe 5 or 10 watts maximum, no problem. The propane heaters draw about 3 amps times 12 volts or 36 watts. Add the 10 watts or so that your refrigerator controller will use, and maybe 10 watts for everything else. Assume your heater runs 50% of the time. House loads, 20 watts, heater blower 18 watts (at half time), lights 10 watts, total 48 watts, into 600 watthours is about 12 hours run time. This is about what we have seen, *if* everything is in good shape. More solar and more batteries are a good idea. $2,000 for 200 watts is a bit steep but maybe not if it includes competent labor.

Battery maintenance is critical. A typical Airstream trailer battery is a single type 27, which is rated at about 85 amp-hours times 12 volts is about 1000 watt-hours, but you don't want to discharge it more than 50%, ever. And at 0 degrees F capacity is already reduced to about 75%. You want at least double this amount -- I use T105 golf cart batteries in marine battery boxes -- and preferably more, otherwise you (a) will not be able to hold all the energy your solar panels produce and (b) you'll damage the batteries by draining them too far. Your two batteries (either two 6-volt in series or two 12-volt in parallel) will probably be enough if you are careful with use and maintenance. "Maintenance free" or gel batteries don't need watering, but they are much more critical about charging. Be sure you have a good charge controller, preferably a MPPT type, to get the most out of your solar panels. And watch the voltage -- if it gets below 10.4 or so, turn everything off and wait for the sun to come up or you'll use up one of the batteries' nine lives... fortunately this is less critical if the batteries are really cold, but 10 volts should be the absolute minimum even then.
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